'His shocking demise is a reminder to us to take life slow.'
KK's death, at the young age of 53, soon after a concert in Kolkata on Tuesday night, has shaken his friends in the film fraternity.
Among them is Jeet Gannguli, who was among the first to hear the tragic news and spent the night at the hospital remembering a bond that went back 24 years.
"He loved shorshe maach (fish in mustard sauce) and would tell my wife, 'Chandra, make this dish, main aa jaata hoon khane ke liye.' However, when we were recording Shukriya for Sadak 2, he would admonish me for putting on weight, telling me to cut down on food and exercise more," the singer-composer tells Rediff.com Senior Contributor Roshmila Bhattcharya.
The last time I spoke to KK, he told me that he was coming to Kolkata and urged, 'Nasrul Manch mein show hai, tu rehna.'
Unfortunately, I had a meeting, so I couldn't be there.
How was I to know that he would go away so soon?
Last evening, after dinner at a friend's restaurant, my wife Chandrani and I had just got into the car when I got a call from his secretary asking me where I was.
Hiteshji is an elderly gentleman and he was sobbing so hard that I could not understand what he was saying.
When I finally did, I couldn't believe it.
'But he was just singing on stage,' I kept repeating, trying perhaps to reassure myself as much as Hiteshji that my friend was fine.
Finally, I rang off, telling I was on my way to the hospital.
En route to CMRI (hospital), I called up Shaan, Sonu Nigam and a few other friends and colleagues, and conveyed the news, still unable to accept that it was true.
'Uth bhai, gaana gana hai'
At the hospital, I found KK lying peacefully on the bed.
Dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, he looked like a young boy, napping after school.
Still in a daze, I walked up to him, and taking his hand in mine, told him, 'Uth bhai, gana gana hai.'
I kept holding his hand, waiting for him to wake up and start singing.
Chandrani and I spent the night at the hospital, meeting friends who started coming in as the news spread.
Among them was musician Kalyan Barua, who had worked with me in Aashiqui 2 and several other projects.
When Babul (Supriyo) came, he insisted I accompany him and I went back inside.
This time, I knew he was not going to wake up.
What happened that night...
The last few days have been really hot and humid, as is normal in Kolkata this time of the year.
KK had back-to-back shows on Monday and Tuesday, and because he was so popular, there was an outpouring of fans and love.
In the video taken from his last show, you can see him sweating profusely, which leads one to surmise that maybe he was uncomfortable.
Since I am a performer myself, I can tell you that when you are in front of a live, screaming audience, you feel only joy, no discomfort.
But once he was out of the auditorium and in the car, he told the driver to increase the air-conditioner, only to be told that it was running at full blast.
Five minutes later, he instructed him to turn off the AC, saying he was feeling cold and complaining of cramps in the hands and feet.
Those were perhaps warning signs, but unfortunately, there was no doctor around to interpret them.
He was driven straight to the Oberoi Grand Hotel, where he was staying.
Outside, some fans were waiting and he clicked selfies with them before going up to his room, where he tottered, fell, hit his head against the corner of the sofa, and started throwing up.
Seriously concerned now, Hiteshji rushed him to the CMRI Hospital.
But it was too late.
He had suffered a massive heart attack which proved to be fatal.
His death was unprecedented and I give the state government full credit, with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee taking on the responsibility herself, ensuring that the post-mortem and other formalities were carried out smoothly and KK could be flown back to Mumbai for the last rites as quickly as possible.
Gaan, golpo, maach...
I've known KK since 1998 when he sang the sad version of the title track for Pritamda and my debut film, Tere Liye, along with another song, Jee Lenge.
Along with gaan (song), there would be lots of golpo (chatting) at the studio, with animated conversations revolving around food.
He loved shorshe maach (fish in mustard sauce) and would tell my wife, 'Chandra, make this dish, main aa jaata hoon khane ke liye.'
However, when we were recording Shukriya for Sadak 2, he would admonish me for putting on weight, telling me to cut down on food and exercise more.
He himself was always extremely fit and looked like a rockstar on stage.
In the early days, he sang many ad jingles for us when that was our bread and butter.
You only had to ask him and he would turn up at the studio with a smile, to do a jingle for a VIP suitcase or something.
He was a gem of a person, a true gentleman who never got embroiled in any controversy, never criticised a fellow singer and never spoke ill against anyone.
It was a friendship of 24 years which produced some films songs, including Piya Aaye Na for Aashiqui 2, Rafta Rafta for Raaz 3 and Shukryia.
We were going to record for another project soon, but that's not going to happen now.
'We had planned a getaway'
Pal was the last song he sang on stage.
I've loved that song since the time the album released, and I love the video just as much.
Today, the words resonate.
His shocking demise is a reminder to us to take life slow.
In search of a quieter, more peaceful existence, I recently bought a small bungalow in Santiniketan.
When I shared the news with KK, he told me it was one of the best decisions I had taken.
We had planned a getaway there... Shaan, Sonu, he, me, Chandrani...
He will never visit my new home now, but hopefully, I will find peace and him in the pals (moments) he has left behind.